Sunday, January 26, 2020

Erosion of Self

The fundamental question we face in the coming years in my opinion is whether or not we succumb to certain forces which aim to entrap us into abstract categories. AI will begin to break us into demographics and categories and create music for us to listen to. Even creators themselves will find their own creativity being warped by the fundamental shift from search to selection. Many problems in computer science as well as in everyday life and creativity are at heart issues of search. Crossword puzzles are search problems, poems with a predetermined structure, wording to a large extent , and so on all involve search as the primary mechanism of action. Speaking as an amateur, an artist finding their sound is a navigation through a search space indelibly colored with emotional streaks. It is a process of finding yourself through music - or at least what sounds optimal to you. I know as a writer I find reading and writing to be such an iterative process, with each book I read I gradually accumulate a sense of style - a preferred tempo- modes of  building tensions & resolution, expression, etc.

Now that AI music systems exist which allow you to put all known "ideas" and their abstract structure in a blender , you are now as an artist able to take away that manual process of shooting in a straight line through a million-dimensional hypersurface by yourself and pinballing your way betwixt myriad dead ends. So , the conclusion is that all that time is wasted, and AI has now liberated humans from another meaningless task. I would make a simplistic argument in opposition to ceding this sacred land over without questioning it. Because we have indeed ceded over a piece of our consciousness already to Google by eliminating our own "crowd-sourcing" manual search features within our long term memory stores and the (admittedly) looser "rat king" brain we form with the consciousness' around us. It is unknown at this point what (if any) ramifications there are on long term memory based on all knowledge being easily accessible. As an overly simplistic, cautious mind I would say that creativity is a subjective, intuitive process which works on a subconscious level to "cross wires" between different long term memories. By taking a piece of our long term memory and storing it in a place we do not have consistent, high-bandwidth access to (such as Google), we are sacrificing an ability to connect deeper with these seemingly trivial pieces of knowledge we may never know we need.

This next step of music being written for you, and you selecting it also assumes you will cover more ground but in essence you take on the role of labeling what is good music and what is bad music - so you get to train the general music AI and help it understand all styles of music. To bring a society from a Tier I to a Tier II society in science fiction parlance takes an infinite amount of work, but humanity's role within that work need not be infinite - and in our case, it appears it won't be. So in fledgling societies, search is indispensable, once knowledge is codified and stripped down to it's abstract level of bits & vectors it can be pumped through the sausage making process which is modern AI code pipelines. (I could write a maddeningly long article on how all knowledge and beauty could be encapsulated with something as prosaic and lifeless as a neural network but I digress) Once we get here, search as a paradigm is more niche and gives rise to selection as a primary mode of human expression. Once those patterns are sufficiently mined and abstracted - we get AI self-selection based on personality type / how we absorb information. This leads to being completely predicted and controlled as this knowledge bleeds from one domain to the next, and eventually you can opt out or opt in.

By opting in, maybe I will see the most beautiful things, hear the sounds I had been yearning for, but perhaps if I didn't - in that process of searching for beauty in the mundane will I converge and chance upon what I really was looking after. If you asked me what I wanted right now, if you read my face, my body language, my neurons, down to the very currents in my brain, you would get the wrong answer. You would converge to a local minimum and I would be none the wiser. As new information comes in, our global optimum changes, and perhaps there are plate tectonics we are unaware of bubbling beneath our subconscious causing dynamic shifts from these imperceptibly small changes bombarding our consciousness. Hell, I'm wary to opt-in to this new search paradigm, but I'm merely one small particle swept up in a universal tide going along at a steady pace leading to where - we'll never know.


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The Tree of Liberty

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